10 Golden Retriever Health Issues: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Golden retriever health issues,

As responsible pet owners, knowing Golden Retriever health issues are crucial

That is why we have done extensive research to compile a list of 10 common Golden Retriever health issues. 

We have included their symptoms, causes, and treatments, to help you ensure the well-being of your Golden friend.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the first health issue on our list:

Golden Retriever Health Issues

Hip Dysplasia & Elbow Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia are two common health issues that affect Golden Retrievers. Hip dysplasia occurs when the hip joint develops abnormally, leading to joint instability and degeneration. Elbow dysplasia, on the other hand, is characterized by abnormal growth and development of the elbow joint.

“Canine Hip Dysplasia develops due to an abnormally formed hip joint or cartilage damage. Over time, the cartilage deteriorates, causing pain with joint movement.”

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals


  • Decreased activity and range of motion
  • Difficulty or reluctance in physical activities like running and climbing stairs
  • Limping, stiffness, and abnormal sitting positions


  • Genetic predisposition
  • Rapid growth during puppyhood
  • Excessive weight gain


  • Medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help manage pain and inflammation.
  • Weight management: Maintaining a healthy weight reduces stress on the joints.
  • Physical therapy: Controlled exercise routines and hydrotherapy can strengthen muscles and improve mobility.
  • Surgical intervention: In severe cases, surgical procedures such as total hip replacement may be necessary.

Prevention tips and exercises to promote joint health

To promote joint health and reduce the risk of dysplasia:

  • Choose a reputable breeder who performs health screenings on parent dogs
  • Provide a balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight for your Golden Retriever
  • Engage in low-impact exercises, such as swimming or walking on soft surfaces, to promote muscle strength and joint stability
  • Regular check-ups allow early detection of joint issues and appropriate intervention.


Obesity refers to an excess accumulation of body fat that negatively affects a dog’s overall health. In Golden Retrievers, obesity is a common problem due to their love for food and tendency to overeat.


  • Excessive weight gain and a visibly rounder abdomen
  • Difficulty breathing and decreased stamina
  • Reluctance to exercise or engage in physical activities
  • Inability to feel the ribs due to a thick layer of fat


  • Overfeeding or providing calorie-dense treats
  • Lack of regular exercise and physical activity
  • Genetic Predisposition to weight gain


  • Diet management: Consult with your veterinarian to create a balanced and portion-controlled diet plan.
  • Regular exercise: Engage in daily exercise routines such as walks, swimming, or interactive play sessions.
  • Weight monitoring: Regularly monitor your Golden Retriever’s weight and make adjustments to their diet and exercise routine as needed.
  • Behavioral changes: Address emotional eating habits and provide mental stimulation to prevent boredom-related overeating.

A healthy weight plays a crucial role in your Golden Retriever’s overall well-being and happiness.

Eye Problems

Golden Retrievers may experience various eye conditions, including:

  • Cataracts: Cloudiness or opacity in the lens of the eye, causing impaired vision.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): A degenerative condition leading to gradual vision loss and eventual blindness.
  • Entropion: Inward rolling of the eyelid, causing irritation and potential damage to the cornea.
  • Glaucoma: Increased pressure within the eye, leading to pain and potential vision loss.
  • Cherry eye: A prolapse of the third eyelid gland, resulting in a red, swollen mass in the corner of the eye.


  • Redness, inflammation, or discharge from the eyes
  • Squinting or rubbing of the eyes
  • Cloudiness or changes in the appearance of the eye
  • Avoidance of bright lights or changes in behavior related to vision


  • Genetics: Some eye conditions have a hereditary component and can be passed down through generations.
  • Environmental factors: Infections, trauma, or exposure to irritants can contribute to eye problems.


  • Medications: Eye drops, ointments, or oral medications may be prescribed to manage specific conditions.
  • Surgical intervention: In certain cases, surgery may be necessary to correct structural abnormalities or remove cataracts.
  • Regular eye examinations: Routine check-ups with a veterinary ophthalmologist help detect and address potential eye issues early.

Preventive measures and regular eye care routine

To promote good eye health and prevent eye problems:

  • Avoid exposure to irritants: Protect your Golden Retriever’s eyes from dust, chemicals, and foreign objects.
  • Regular cleaning: Gently wipe the area around the eyes to remove any discharge or debris.
  • Check for abnormalities: Regularly inspect your dog’s eyes for any redness, cloudiness, or changes in appearance.
  • Prompt veterinary care: If you notice any signs of eye problems, seek veterinary attention promptly to prevent further complications.

Ear Problems

Golden Retrievers are prone to ear infections due to their floppy ears and the presence of excess earwax. Proper ear care and regular cleaning can help prevent these problems.


  • Scratching or rubbing of the ears
  • Redness, swelling, or discharge from the ears
  • Odor or discomfort in the ear area


  • Excessive earwax production
  • Moisture accumulation in the ear canal
  • Allergies or infections


  • Veterinary examination and diagnosis
  • Medications for managing infections or inflammation
  • Regular ear cleaning with vet-approved ear cleansers
  • Proper drying of the ears after swimming or bathing
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Tips for Regular Ear Cleaning and Maintenance:

  • Use cotton balls or soft gauze to clean the outer ear
  • Avoid inserting cotton swabs or any sharp objects into the ear canal
  • Dry the ears thoroughly after swimming or bathing

Skin Conditions

Golden Retrievers are prone to various skin conditions, including allergies, seborrhea, and hot spots. Proper grooming, regular bathing, and proactive care can help maintain healthy skin and coats.


  • Excessive scratching or biting of the skin
  • Scabs, lumps, or texture changes on the skin
  • Dry or flaky skin and paw licking
  • Hair loss or thinning coat


  • Allergies to food, environmental factors, or parasites
  • Excessive humidity or dryness
  • Poor grooming practices or lack of regular bathing


  • Veterinary examination and diagnosis
  • Medications for managing allergies or infections
  • Regular bathing with vet-approved shampoos and moisturizers
  • Dietary adjustments to address food allergies

Preventing and Managing Skin Allergies and Infections:

  • Regular grooming: Brushing your Golden Retriever’s coat helps remove dead hair, distribute natural oils, and prevent matting.
  • Bathing: Use a gentle, hypoallergenic shampoo to maintain skin health and remove allergens.
  • Environmental control: Minimize exposure to potential allergens by keeping the living area clean and dust-free.
  • Flea prevention: Use flea control products recommended by your veterinarian to prevent flea bites and associated allergies.
  • Dietary management: If food allergies are suspected, a hypoallergenic or elimination diet may be prescribed.

Aortic Stenosis and Heart Problems

Aortic stenosis and other heart problems can affect Golden Retrievers, potentially leading to serious cardiovascular issues.

“Aortic stenosis is a congenital heart defect characterized by a narrowing of the aortic valve, impeding proper blood flow from the heart.”

Additionally, Golden Retrievers may be prone to other heart problems such as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) or subaortic stenosis.


  • Exercise intolerance and fatigue
  • Rapid or difficulty breathing
  • Fainting or collapsing
  • Coughing or wheezing


  • Aortic stenosis: Typically a congenital condition caused by abnormal valve development.
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy: Weakening of the heart muscle, leading to enlarged chambers and compromised heart function.
  • Subaortic stenosis: Narrowing below the aortic valve due to abnormal tissue growth.


  • Medications: Your veterinarian may prescribe medications to manage heart function, improve blood flow, and reduce symptoms.
  • Surgical intervention: Severe cases of aortic stenosis or other heart problems may require surgical correction.
  • Regular monitoring: Routine check-ups, including echocardiograms, are essential to monitor heart health and adjust treatment as needed.

Lifestyle modifications to support heart health

  • Controlled exercise: Engage in low-impact activities and avoid excessive exertion to minimize strain on the heart.
  • Weight management: Maintain a healthy weight to reduce the workload on the heart.
  • Dietary considerations: Follow a balanced, heart-healthy diet recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Stress reduction: Minimize stress and create a calm environment for your Golden Retriever.


“Goldens have a high probability of cancer. That rate is about 60%, one of the highest in the dog world.” –


Cancer is a prevalent Golden Retriever health problem, and early detection and appropriate treatment are crucial for improving outcomes. Some common types include:

  • Hemangiosarcoma: Malignant cancer that affects the blood vessels.
  • Lymphoma: A cancer of the lymphatic system.
  • Osteosarcoma: Bone cancer that primarily affects the limbs.
  • Mast cell tumors: Skin tumors that can vary in severity.


  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Lumps or abnormal growths on the body
  • Changes in appetite or difficulty eating
  • Lethargy and decreased energy levels


The exact causes of cancer in Golden Retrievers are not fully understood. However, genetic factors, environmental factors, and immune system abnormalities may contribute to the development of cancer.


Treatment options for cancer in Golden Retrievers depend on the type, stage, and individual circumstances. They may include:

  • Surgery: Surgical removal of tumors or affected tissue.
  • Chemotherapy: Administration of anti-cancer drugs to target and destroy cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy: High-energy radiation to shrink or eliminate tumors.
  • Immunotherapy: Stimulating the immune system to recognize and fight cancer cells.
  • Palliative care: Focusing on pain management and improving quality of life for dogs with advanced cancer.

Supportive care and quality of life considerations

Providing supportive care is essential for Golden Retrievers undergoing cancer treatment. This may involve:

  • Pain management: Medications and therapies to alleviate discomfort.
  • Nutritional support: A balanced diet tailored to the dog’s specific needs and appetite.
  • Environmental adaptations: Creating a comfortable and safe living environment.
  • Emotional support: Spending quality time with your dog, providing reassurance, and monitoring their overall well-being.


Panosteitis, also known as “growing pains,” is a condition that commonly affects young Golden Retrievers during their rapid growth phase.

In other words, Panosteitis is an inflammatory condition that primarily affects the long bones of young dogs. It causes bone pain and lameness.


  • Limping or lameness that may shift from one leg to another.
  • Reluctance to exercise or play.
  • Swelling or tenderness in the affected leg.
  • Mild to moderate fever in some cases.


The exact cause of panosteitis is unknown, but it is believed to be multifactorial, including genetic and nutritional factors.


  • Pain management: Medications to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Rest and restricted activity: Allowing the affected dog to heal and preventing excessive strain on the bones.
  • Nutritional support: Ensuring a balanced diet with appropriate levels of essential nutrients for proper bone development.

Prognosis and long-term management

Panosteitis usually resolves on its own as the dog matures. However, in some cases, it may recur or progress to chronic orthopedic conditions. 

Regular check-ups with a veterinarian and providing a healthy lifestyle can help monitor and manage any long-term effects.


Hypothyroidism is a common endocrine disorder that affects Golden Retrievers.

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. This can lead to various health issues and a range of symptoms.


  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Lethargy and lack of energy
  • Hair loss or thinning coat
  • Skin problems, such as dryness or infections
  • Intolerance to cold temperatures
  • Behavioral changes, including depression or anxiety


Hypothyroidism in Golden Retrievers is commonly caused by an autoimmune condition called autoimmune thyroiditis, where the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland. Other causes may include genetic predisposition or certain medications.


Managing hypothyroidism typically involves lifelong medication with synthetic thyroid hormone replacements. Your veterinarian will prescribe the appropriate dosage based on your dog’s specific needs. Regular monitoring of thyroid hormone levels through blood tests is crucial to ensure the medication is effective and adjusted as necessary.


Bloating, also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), is a potentially life-threatening condition that commonly affects large and deep-chested breeds like Golden Retrievers. 

Bloating occurs when a dog’s stomach fills with gas, fluid, or food, causing it to expand. In some cases, the stomach can twist on itself, leading to a life-threatening emergency.


  • Unsuccessful attempts to vomit
  • Distended abdomen, appearing swollen or bloated
  • Restlessness or pacing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Signs of pain or discomfort
  • Rapid breathing or difficulty breathing


  • Excessive food or water consumption
  • Rapid eating or drinking
  • Genetic predisposition


Bloating is a medical emergency, and immediate veterinary intervention is crucial. Treatment may involve:

  • Decompression of the stomach to relieve pressure.
  • Stabilization of the dog’s condition through intravenous fluids and medications.
  • Surgery to correct any twisting or damage to the stomach if present.

Prevention tips and recommendations for reducing the risk of bloating

While bloating cannot be completely prevented, certain measures can help reduce the risk:

  • Feed smaller, more frequent meals instead of one large meal.
  • Use slow-feed bowls or food puzzles to slow down eating.
  • Avoid vigorous exercise immediately before or after meals.
  • Discourage rapid ingestion of water.
  • Be mindful of stress levels and minimize stressful situations.

If you suspect bloating in your Golden Retriever, seek veterinary assistance immediately, as time is of the essence.

Proactive care, early detection, and regular veterinary visits are essential in maintaining your Golden Retriever’s health and well-being.

Considering pet insurance to help cover potential healthcare costs is a wise decision. Your Golden Retriever’s health is worth investing in, and providing them with a happy and healthy life is a rewarding responsibility.

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